Ad world in America still dominated by whites, says U.S Adman

Though it has been over 50 years since advertising became a leading sector in the United States(U.S), there hasn’t been any real generational shift in how things were being done then and now as the sector is still largely dominated by Caucasians, according to chairman / CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Amusement Park, Southern California, Mr. Jimmy Smith.

He, however, said that advertising in the U.S could become more impactful on clients’ brands if people of other races get more involved in the process.

Speaking to MARKETING EDGE in Durban, South Africa, Smith, said that the advertising industry in the U.S is still largely dominated by Caucasians but could greatly improve if people of other races got involved. “There is really no difference in how advertising is being done now as opposed to how it was being done in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In the US, it is still dominated by white folks and they haven’t allowed many African-Americans to get involved in the advertising so there is the need to change in order to elevate the work.

“It is healthy for the industry to have not just blacks but Asians, Hispanics and more people who are not white to get involved in the process in order for clients to get the best possible works they can, because when you mix all the various races together, you come up with new ideas. Remember the Tower of Babel? That was the whole deal. God said ‘you know, these guys can build a tower all the way up to heaven’. What God didn’t like was that they got arrogant; but the point is that when we come together, there is nothing we as human beings can’t do. That same spirit in advertising could generate new and profound breakthrough works that can really move a client’s business,” he explained.

However, Smith who was also a judge at this year’s Loeries Award , applauded African creative people, saying that the highest level of the works featured at the Loeries stood up to the highest quality of the works in the US. He said: “In terms of quality, the highest level of the works here at the Loeries stood up to the highest quality of the works in the US. In the States, you have more folks to choose from. There is a higher concentration of advertising professionals to choose from. Because you have more people, you have more good ideas. There are a lot of good works in the US and a lot of pitiful works also, so I think quality- wise; there were some high quality work but also some terrible works. But in every award show – whether it is the Cannes or the One Shot (I sit on the board of the One Shot) – you would see a lot of terrible works. It was pretty much the same.”

One aspect in which works at the 38th edition of the Loeries were judged was ‘innovation’. For Smith, the same attitude can be applied to advertising, noting that big things come in little packages. “Hip-hop came out of not having this or that, so we’re going to take the same record and scratch it, sample it and create something new. It is the same thing here. For folks who entered or plan to enter the Loeries, you may not have had this or that but it is an opportunity to come up with something new. So don’t just focus on winning the Loeries, but win the Loeries and then you want to go and win the Cannes, One Shot, BNABs; don’t stop.”


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